In an earlier article I wrote about the difference between a strategic plan and a business plan, and I discussed the different timeframes for each.
Kath wrote to me and asked how far ahead she should look in her strategic plan.
I have seen strategic plans as short as 5 years, I have also seen others that encompass 20 years’ strategic direction. The most practical is probably a timeframe over 10 years.
Firstly let’s remember what a strategic plan is for. It is a document that provides the overall (hence strategic) direction for an organisation, that is based on working towards that organisation’s vision. As such it is necessarily short on detail, generally because it takes a number of years to achieve a vision, particularly if it is intently aspirational and a bit of a reach. If the real timeframe for the achievement of the vision is 10 to 20 years, you cannot possibly predict any detail of what the world and therefore your response will be over that time. The strategic plan provides strategy, not detailed operational action plans, which come from implementing the strategy over a shorter period.